our family stories

Snowy Baker – Australia’s actor athlete

When I read it, I was engrossed in The Story of Snowy Baker by Greg Growden. Reginald “Snowy” Baker represented Australia in three sports at the 1908 Olympic Games and played in two rugby union Tests. He represented his country as a horseman and travelled the world as a champion swimmer, diver and boxer.

Although I do enjoy a good biography, I must confess that sport is not a topic I would usually find interesting. But there is a good reason for making Snowy an exception. He has a place in our family tree, admittedly on a very outer limb. His sister Jean married Andrew Sime (my first cousin 3 times removed). Or more simply, Andrew was the nephew of my great-great-grandmother.

Snowy Baker’s life story for me becomes much more interesting now that I know that he and his wonder horse, Boomerang, went into the early moving picture industry. Before heading to Hollywood Snowy starred, produced and undertook all of his own stunts in some of the first feature-length Australian films including The Shadow of Lightning Ridge.

Apparently while in Hollywood, he played polo with Walt Disney and taught Rudolph Valentino how to kiss! Now there’s an interesting image.

[Register – South Australia 1920]

While looking through a 1914 copy of The Lone Hand the following sketches of Snowy Baker sprang out at me. They were done by David Low, the political cartoonist (my husband Jim‘s uncle). Snowy is on my side of the family. Who’d have thought that our family paths had crossed way back then!

Snowy Baker illustration by David Low in 1914

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